HFT Diary: The Gathering
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- Last updated: 16/12/2016
Come the tail end of the national Hunter Field Target season and we all look forward to what’s known as the Gathering. This is the grand finale - a big shoot with a 40-target course, (as opposed to the usual 30), for which individuals need to have qualified. Come approximately in the top 12 at any one of the year’s individual National rounds, and you are eligible for a slot. Qualification obviously gets easier as the year goes on, as all previous qualifying shooters are discounted at subsequent rounds. I scraped in late in the year, (not quite sure where it all went wrong!) when anyone and his dog got through, but the tried and tested format works well.
Held at Kibworth Shooting Ground, near Market Harborough, it was off to a good start with a hearty breakfast from the newly revamped clubhouse. A quick check of zero on the practise range, then a brief safety talk before assembling at our start peg, to meet our designated shooting partners.
I find myself frantically scanning weather forecasts these days and for once, the morning looked clear. That meant only one thing - my Air Arms FTP900 would get its second airing.
Shooting through the course in groups of three, keeps everything sociable, and having a chat with like-minded enthusiasts is all part of the attraction for many. Fantastic variety lay in wait too, with a section of the course arcing round an open field, then another around the rough basin area, followed by our final stint around the lake. The course overall was superbly laid out; being both challenging and really enjoyable to shoot, despite a sneaky wind intermittently playing with our patience.
Chris Cundey emerged the man in form, and with an unassailable 78ex80 on the day, he took this years Gathering trophy in style. For my part, after a hard fought round and a good three hours of concentration, I finished on 74ex 80, and joint 18th. That said, three points more would have vied for second place, and given the discipline shots that I know I threw away, I came away mightily heartened overall. Scores are tight at the top for sure, and learning from the experience is what it’s all about. Overall assessment - there’s work to be done, but it’s not quite a lost cause just yet! What was that, only fooling myself, how dare you?
Once this shoot finishes, all trophies and prizes for the year overall, are presented, and it all makes for a great finish to the main thrust of the 2014 HFT season.
OK; we were admittedly fairly lucky at Kibworth, as the crummy weather held off, and a good day’s sport was had by all. At this time of year though, many days don’t work out so well. Get your rifle wet for any significant period of time, and the chances are that it will need some TLC, to ensure that the dreaded rust doesn’t set in.
PCP’s in particular, need attention, where rain and moisture can seep down and underneath, between the action and the inside of the stock. The classic move is just to stand the gun in a warm room and let any excess moisture evaporate off; but for peace of mind, it really does pay to whip off the stock to get a proper look. Many PCPs have just one or two stock-to-action retaining bolts, which just need to be slackened and removed; then with the stock pulled clear, any dirt or moisture droplets can be thoroughly removed. Give the underside of the metalwork a liberal smear of gun oil before re-assembly, and the jobs a goodun’ and your treasured kit is protected once more.
I’ve mentioned it before, but don’t forget next year’s World HFT Championships; again to be staged at Kelmarsh Hall, near Kettering, on the 5th and 6th April. At the time of writing, some 230 shooters from a possible entry of around 320, have already signed up, and secured their place. Given the growing interest in this flagship event, if you still want to be there, act fast to stand any chance.